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Is Your Furnace a “Clunker”?

Is Your Furnace a “Clunker”?

by Kelly Linger

You are probably familiar with the new definition of “clunker”. It is a car that does not stack up to the current fuel efficiency standards. Well, we think the term can also be used to describe furnaces that do not measure up to the current efficiency standards.

How do you know if your furnace is a “clunker”?

The current minimum efficiency for gas furnaces mandated by the federal government is 80%. Anything less than the current minimum standard is, in our mind, a “clunker”.

Q: How do I know if my furnace is less than 80% efficient?

A: Gas furnaces that are 80% efficient and higher all make use of a “draft inducer” or “combustion blower”. This is a fan system that helps the furnace exhaust the fumes from the combustion process. It is located at the base of the vent pipe. If your furnace does not have one, it is something less than 80% efficient, and thus, a “clunker.” NOTE: Just because your furnace may be rated at 80%, doesn’t necessary mean it is performing at that efficiency. A Home Heating Energy Audit will show you actual performance efficiency.

Q: What if my furnace is vented with white plastic pipe?

A: Good news, your furnace is most likely 90% or more efficient. Definitely NOT a “clunker.”

Q: How much can I expect to save by replacing my “clunker” furnace?

A: That depends on a lot of different factors, such as: the rate at which your house loses heat (heat loss), the actual efficiency of your furnace (combustion efficiency and delivered performance efficiency), the price you pay for natural gas and electricity, and the efficiency and performance of the new system you are considering. But, let’s try an example.* Typical savings: One example of a customer replacing a 60% efficient furnace with a 95% Variable Speed furnace results in natural gas and electrical savings of 40%. With the current Federal Tax Credit program, the new furnace would pay for itself in just two years with a lifetime (20 year) return on investment of 50%! Compare that to the 5% you’re getting on your money market account. By the way, that 50% ROI your new furnace is giving you is TAX FREE.

Q: What if I already have an 80% efficient furnace, should I replace it with a 95% Variable Speed furnace?

A: In the example above, if we insert your 80% furnace for the 60% furnace and compare it against the 95% Variable Speed furnace we get the following results: Natural gas and electric savings of 22%. Payback period of 4.7 years and 20 year tax free return on investment of 21%. Now, you decide.

A home energy audit can show you how to save money. Don’t waste money this winter trying to heat with an inefficient furnace. Get the peace of mind of knowing your gas and electric bills are as low as possible.

One Response to “Is Your Furnace a “Clunker”?”

  • Dale Hartline:

    They may have a 90% furnace. It may not be a clunker but it could be as much as 20 years old and missing important technologies. 1. DC drive fan motor for continuous fan operation to provide moore even heating and cooling. Incresing the effectiveness of air cleaners, and lowering noise levels. all of this and saving on electric cost every time your furnace and a/c come on. 2. 2 stage heating or modulating technologies making you moore comfortable and saving heating cost.

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